Owned by the Oesch family, Swisslane Farms in Alto, Mich., is one of seven regional winners in Dairy Farmers of America’s Members of Distinction program, which honors members who embody the cooperative’s core values and excel on their operations, in their communities and in the industry.
Just over 100 years old, Swisslane Farms has been an integral part of the Oesch family history. Today, senior partners Fred, Tom and Jeff Oesch, and next-generation leaders Matt and Tommy Oesch and Annie Link, milk more than 2,000 Holstein cows in Alto, where the local community is an important part of their operation.
Through their on-farm, nonprofit organization, Dairy Discovery, the Oesch family connects their community to their values and farm-to-table story by welcoming kids to experience the farm and develop a connection to their food — from going on a hayride and bottle-feeding calves to learning about a cow’s diet and enjoying a glass of milk.
The dairy’s values are the same as their ancestors were 100 years ago, with a strong focus on caring for the cows and the land, providing a quality product and innovation.
The family worked with a group of business advisers in Michigan to establish their operational values: practice God-honoring conduct, focus on the cows, be light years ahead, turn a nickel into a dime, make hay while the sun shines and become productive people.
The Oesch family leans on these values when making tough decisions and uses them as a standard when evaluating employees during year-end reviews.
Swisslane Farms became one of the first farms in the state of Michigan to install robotic milkers on a large scale.
Other regional winners include:
Central. Brick family, Brickstead Dairy in Greenleaf, Wis.
Mountain. Roth family, Si-Ellen Farms in Jerome, Idaho
Northeast. Garber family, Rock Solid Dairy LLC in Shippensburg, Pa.
Southeast. Crawley family, Crawley’s Valley View Farms in Gravette, Ark.
Southwest. Schroeder family, Lawrence Schroeder Dairy in Windthorst, Texas
Western. De Snayer family, De Snayer Dairy in Lodi, Calif.
For more about the 2020 Member of Distinction Award winners, including photos and a video about each farm family, visit dfamod.com.